What Catholics Need to Know About Respecting Cremated Remains

Contrary to what many people believe, cremation is not at odds with Catholic funeral services, but the Vatican has issued guidelines on how cremated remains should be handled. If you are making arrangements for a Catholic funeral in San Jose, the Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of San Jose can offer guidance if you have questions. Here is a closer look at what you need to know. cremation - church

Cremation in the Catholic Church

Although many people have believed that the Catholic Church previously forbade cremation, in reality, the Vatican specifically addressed cremation in 1963 and said that it is in keeping with church doctrine. The Vatican did state a preference for burial, but since that time, any Catholic who wished to be cremated could do so without forfeiting the ability to receive Catholic funeral rites.

Vatican Cremation Clarification

In 2016, the Vatican again addressed cremation. This time, while confirming that cremation is acceptable in the Catholic faith and that no one who chooses cremation can be denied Catholic funeral rites, the Vatican issued guidelines on what should happen with cremated remains. Specifically, the Vatican said that cremation remains cannot be scattered or kept at home but rather should be kept someplace sacred, like a cemetery. Cremated remains should also not be divided among family members or used in jewelry or other mementos. The entirety of the cremated remains should be kept whole in a sacred place to show respect for the sanctity of the body.

Reasons for the Guideline Updates

Many believe that the Vatican addressed this issue in response to the growing industry around cremation, in which cremated remains are memorialized in everything from diamonds to shotgun shells by surviving family members. The new Vatican guidelines restrict these more secular ways of memorializing a lost loved one in favor of the honoring the body in keeping with church doctrine regarding resurrection. The new rules require anyone who wishes to keep cremated remains at home to receive permission from the Bishop of their Diocese.

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